John 17:6-19Looking up to heaven, Jesus prayed, "I have made your name known to those whom you gave me from the world. They were yours, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. Now they know that everything you have given me is from you; for the words that you gave to me I have given to them, and they have received them and know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me. I am asking on their behalf; I am not asking on behalf of the world, but on behalf of those whom you gave me, because they are yours. All mine are yours, and yours are mine; and I have been glorified in them. And now I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one, as we are one. While I was with them, I protected them in your name that you have given me. I guarded them, and not one of them was lost except the one destined to be lost, so that the scripture might be fulfilled. But now I am coming to you, and I speak these things in the world so that they may have my joy made complete in themselves. I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world. I am not asking you to take them out of the world, but I ask you to protect them from the evil one. They do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world. Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. As you have sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. And for their sakes I sanctify myself, so that they also may be sanctified in truth."
This gospel reading is set just before Jesus is captured by the soldiers and sent to Pilate to be crucified. It is a long prayer of praise and supplication to God the Father. In his prayer Jesus talks about his unity with the Father and how he is not of this world. Jesus petitions God to protect his disciples when he is gone because he knows what lies ahead for them.
He says, “ I am not asking you to take them out of the world, but I ask you to protect them from the evil one....As you have sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. And for their sakes I sanctify myself, so that they also may be sanctified in truth.”
I consider myself a follower of Jesus but I do not always feel protected from the evil one (whoever that is). Sometimes I think I would like to just be protected from myself. As I was pondering this whole thing about the evil one I started reflecting on my study of meditation. The purpose of spiritual meditation is to become one with God. The translation of the word Yoga is to be yoked with God, to become one with God.
One of the first things you are taught when you learn to meditate is that the mind is a very undisciplined beast. It wants to go here and there and everywhere. The task in meditation is to rein it in but not in any severe kind of way. In meditation you focus on one spiritual thought and the undisciplined mind will look for all kinds of distractions.(did I turn off the lights downstairs? Did I take my medicine? What is on the agenda for tomorrow?) Every time the mind wants to go in another direction you gently bring it back to that one spiritual thought. In a ten or twenty minute meditation the mind may look for distractions in a hundred different ways but you always gently bring it back.
Eventually, the mind gives up and for a brief moment in time you are rewarded with a sense of God's presence. You are focused. You are in the moment. It is such an all consuming feeling that you really do feel otherworldly. Of course, you must come back.
We do live in a physical world that has so many distractions. Our task is to live in this world and attend to the needs the world. At the same time we must never lose our moral compass. It is a lot like learning to meditate. You get distracted. You bring yourself back. You get distracted again. You bring yourself back again. The world is filled with all kinds of pressing matters that can send us off course. So.....be gentle on your self but at the same time bring back into focus where you really want to be on this spiritual journey. That is the truth of Jesus message and the promise that by following his teaching of love we too are one with the Father.